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"Ah, Poor Liza, Ah!" – experience of psychological analysis of N.M. Karamzin’s story

"Ah, Poor Liza, Ah!" – experience of psychological analysis of N.M. Karamzin’s story

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Recieved: 05/27/2020

Accepted: 06/03/2020

Published: 10/06/2020

Keywords: psychological analysis of a literary work; perception of a literary work; artistic perception; mechanisms of artistic perception

p.: 109-147

DOI: 10.11621/npj.2020.0210

Available online: 06.10.2020

To cite this article:

Vladimir S. Sobkin. "Ah, Poor Liza, Ah!" – experience of psychological analysis of N.M. Karamzin’s story. // National Psychological Journal 2020. 2. p.109-147. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0210

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Issue 2, 2020

Vladimir S. Sobkin Federal Scientific Center of Psychological and Multidisciplinary Research


Background. It is a generally shared belief  that “Bednaya Liza” (1792; "Poor Liza") of N.М. Karamzin is a classic example of the Russian sentimental school. Actually it is not sufficient just to attribute this story to the particular genre. A careful reading of “Poor Lisa” we will appear to allow identifying basic, archetypal psychological mechanisms that determine the characteristics of modern artistic perception in a latent form. The work continues the line of psychological research on the interpretation of a literary text identified by L.S. Vygotsky as ‘reader's criticism’. A number of psychological techniques and hermeneutic methods of text analysis are used.

The Objective is to reveal explicit or implicit literary techniquesused by Karamzin, e.g. plot construction, speech and behaviour characters, description of the landscape, etc., and also to consider the psychological characteristics of the real behaviour of the characters, i.e. motives, affective reactions, behavioural norms, social expectations, moral and ethical assessments, worldview, etc.

Design. The paper provides an artistic and real analysis of the story used by the author to play two games with the reader. Both of them are played by the author and the reader simultaneously, where both artistic and real plains are combined on "one playing ground", i.e.  the ground of the literary piece, which making different combinations determine the reader's experience.

Results. A number of psychological phenomena are highlighted that are quite clearly manifested in the perception of the story "Poor Liza". The phenomena are compared with the text features and those artistic techniques that generate them. The issues concerning the study of authentic  psychological mechanisms, authentic artistic experience and eliciting their meaning when reading a story are considered. The author brings together the explanatory models and concepts used in philological and psychological works in order to clarify the genuine sentimental feelings


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To cite this article:

Vladimir S. Sobkin. "Ah, Poor Liza, Ah!" – experience of psychological analysis of N.M. Karamzin’s story. // National Psychological Journal 2020. 2. p.109-147. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0210

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